In today's work environment we are often challenged by the need for change and continual improvement. Yet repeatedly, when presented with the need to adjust, we find staff frozen with inaction. Everyone recognizes change is going to happen and is often able to identify the changes needed. However no one proactively takes action to affect a transformation, as they are waiting for step-by-step management direction.
How do you overcome this hurdle and inspire your team to not only embrace but accept responsibility for change? With leadership and clear, consistent communication your team can be on their way to building the momentum needed to move your department ahead.
I recognize that change is never easy. For any progress to happen it's important to clearly communicate your vision to your team and set expectations. What is your big picture vision for your in-house agency? Facilitate open discussions about the vision and direction you are taking the department. Make certain the team knows you are all in this together. Success or failure is experienced by all. Often those closer to the work are in a position to recognize what needs to change before management. Articulate your expectations and confirm with your staff that they are responsible and accountable for their jobs, career development and moving the department (in-house agency) forward. This means individuals must recognize the need and take action related to career development, role coverage/backup, process improvement, customer service and creative development to name a few areas that may need change to align with your vision.
Make sure the team knows they are empowered to affect change. This means that you, as their manager, give them permission to make mistakes and will have their backs as long as you are always kept apprised of what they are doing and any challenges they encounter. As an informed leader you stand by your team and their decisions and take the opportunity to coach corrective action when needed. An informed leader is not surprised by customer or management comments and can address them. View mistakes as developmental opportunities and rally the team to learn from, but not dwell on, them and focus on moving forward. I've always said that taking action and apologizing later is better than taking no action at all.
Set Measurable Goals
So how do you keep what could be perceived as chaos, organized? Set goals. Make them measurable so it is obvious you meet them. There is a lot of information available about writing S.M.A.R.T. goals(specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound). Teach your team to create individual S.M.A.R.T. goals that support your own goals for the same time period. If your vision is to be the best in the industry at customer service, make sure that expectation is articulated and discussion occurs around what this means. Does it mean you are consistently meeting customer expectations OR that you are anticipating customer requirements so that you outperform your competition? What does it take to do this? What do individuals need to accomplish this goal? Make sure it is articulated in a goal with a measurable outcome. Be an available and active coach.
When it comes to coaching change, it's not simply good enough to tell the team what is expected, it is necessary to show them by your actions and behaviors. Regularly demonstrate the behaviors you want your team to emulate. Set goals, take action, be accountable for your actions. You display what taking action, continuous development and communication looks like. You will soon see your team imitating the behaviors you demonstrate.
Communicate Clearly and Continuously
Communicate with your team often. It is necessary to clearly and continuously communicate your vision and expectations for the right actions to be taken. Communication should go out widely to your department leaders and then deeply through your direct reports to all staff. The same message should be continuously delivered throughout your organization. Your leadership team must be recognized for delivering a consistent message with genuine enthusiasm for the changes and anticipated outcomes. Make communication a two-way street.
Even with the best leadership not everyone will embrace change. This is where your courage to make difficult decisions will come into play. You may need to work with your HR department to address development plans and/or personnel changes. Making this happen is best for allowing everyone to move ahead.
You know it is impossible to achieve change alone. You need to be able to rely on your team to make change happen. A clearly communicated vision and expectations will help you inspire the change you envision. Giving permission to learn from mistakes and strong goal alignment will help ensure the team takes action and, more importantly, owns their actions to build the change momentum needed. In today's fast paced ever-changing environment, collaboration of the team to bring about change is crucial and the outcomes very rewarding.